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arrakiswitch

A Reciprocal Love Affair With Books

Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.

Review: Grey by E.L. James

— feeling alien
Grey - E.L. James

Finally! Done with it! And... it wasn't bad? Though I was left with the feeling that, if I'd wanted to reread the Fifty Shades of Grey, I would have. And I didn't really want to. I've said it before, allow me to reiterate: I didn't love the first one. I liked it, on the lower scale of what that means, but found that there was no story to keep my interest, nothing beyond the drama that was Ana and Christian and that, the worst sin of all for an erotic romance novel, the sex was bland and repetitive. I saw someone recently say that romance authors have to realize that it's QUALITY not QUANTITY. And I think the Fifty books are guilty of this first and foremost. Who cares that the two of them are horny all the time if the sex scenes are tortuously boring to read?

 

I've got to say, this was written far better than FSOG. Without competition. But sometimes I even forgot I was supposed to be reading this from Christian's point of view, the differences, the insights, were so minimal, and when that's your entire gimmick, and it's not coming across, you're failing. The sex seemed somehow less enjoyable (I know people despise purple prose but, trust me, it's so preferable to the clinical way these scenes read. You know what word I never want mentioned in an erotic novel? "Perineum." I mean, I don't want it to say "taint" either, but something in between--oh, ha ha, Jean!--would be nice!) and I struggled to get through those parts more than anything else. I began to skim. I started to feel like the Mohave Desert down there--and not in terms of heat, either, but in terms of dryness. xP I think I caught a tumbelweed, at one point with my thighs!

 

The attraction is the new scenes, but they're short and too far between. We've been told all of this before, what his relationships are like, I wanted to see it. Unfortunately, we're told some more and the scenes are far too brief to give us anything more than just a taste of... anything! He's close with Mia? Too bad there's one brief scene with her where he's just generally annoyed that she's asking about Ana. So the greatest attraction of the book is the most underutilized, but also the most enjoyable.

 

But here's the sing of a poor author: James has a certain story she has to follow, she's stuck with it, through Christian's dialogue in FSOG. So what's the problem? Christian actually comes off as much more chill, much more able to go along with things without questioning them, in the original book. So what we get here is:

 

What he says (in FSOG): Oh, Ana! Of course I wasn't forced to take you to dinner with my parents! I'm proud to be with you, I wouldn't show you around if I wasn't.

What he means (in Grey): OH MY FREAKING GOD HOW COULD MY BROTHER DO THIS TO ME, PRESSURE ME INTO INVITING HER ALONG OF COURSE SHE'D WANT TO GO IF HE'S INVITING HER ROOMMATE WHY DID I INTRODUCE HER TO MY MOTHER THEY ALL HAVE EXPECTATIONS OF THIS I CAN'T MEET THIS IS TORTURING ME WHY CAN'T THEY ALL GET OFF MY BACK HELL I HATE ALL OF THIS! Wait, we're five minutes away from leaving and I've just miraculously discovered that I wouldn't have been allowed it to happen if I didn't want it to. And now Ana's telling me she thinks I was forced into this? HOW DARE SHE?

 

I feel like the fans have expectations of Christian being more of an ass than he actually is in the books, and almost as if James was pandering to that. There is an extensive fanfic I read once in one afternoon (I had the flu, I wasn't doing anything else) that is all three of the books from Christian's point of view, and essentially, the author just made him lie about everything as he silently SEETHED to accommodate the fact that he's actually fairly chill. And while the now-canon version isn't quite that bad, there were times....

 

There's still no non-consensual sex. That's not a matter of opinion or subjectivity. There is explicit consent. Doesn't made the sex any more titillating, unfortunately, and people would still fight me over this.

 

So, overall... Eh. I enjoyed most of it, but it was really too long to be simply a guilty pleasure read, with too little new content to recommend it.